Best practices Fuel quality issues are here to stay

As the trade grows in South Asia there is also an increased focus on providing bunkering services and this also brings into focus the quality of fuel as the industry at the global level is conscious about reducing emissions of ships that move about 90 per cent of the global exim cargo. Bringing to the fore global bunkering trends and their impact on the best practices to be implemented in the shipping industry, Capt. Rahul Choudhuri, MD – AMEA, Veritas Petroleum Services discussed about the fuel quality issues and fuel checking systems.

Going by the volumes, bunker volumes in India are five times less than China, seven times less than Korea and UAE and 25 times less than Singapore. Focusing on the hotspots of concentrated fuel quality defaults on global basis, Capt. Rahul underlined certain trends with distillate fuels such as the consistency with low flash point distillates, low viscosity distillates and high pour point distillates. Even heavy fuel oils are characterised by presence of high sediments, density and chemical contamination. So the conclusion is, “Fuel quality issues are here to stay, they are global in nature and we need to find a solution to it.” Surprisingly it is noted that fuel quality issues are less present in India and Sri Lanka compared to other parts of the globe.

 To maintain quality of fuel Capt. Rahul highlighted the ISO8217-2017 quality standards that are recently launched and the industry should start following these standards, upgrading from the ISO8217-2015 standards that are currently in use. Moving to fuel system check, he said that 15 per cent of the global fuel oil exceed the quality specifications in terms of Aluminium and Silicon levels. Even the efficiency of fuel purifiers used is not up to the mark. Fuel purifiers currently in use are 57 per cent efficient while they need to be 85 per cent efficient. Singapore has adapted mass flow metering to stop illegal fuel practices and improve fuel efficiency.

Verification of the quantity of fuel is also essential as 0.5 per cent deviation in fuel quantity causes an average loss of $20,000 for a ship on an annual basis. Towards the conclusion Capt. Rahul highlighted five issues to be watched for:

  • Fuel quality knows no location
  • Watch out for distillate quality
  • Fuel system check programme needs to be improved
  • Mass fuel flow meter needs to be checked
  • Watch for chemical contamination.